AFA stakeholder Alliance AutoGas helps sheriff's office go green

By Danielle Thomas

Dec. 28, 2011 -- The Pearl River County Sheriff's Department its about to cut is energy bill by $60,000 a year. One by one, 16 patrol cars are being outfitted to run off propane gas. Pearl River County is just the third law enforcement agency in the state to make the big switch.

Department heads tell WLOX the deputies who've driven the propane fueled cars report the vehicles run a lot better, which is exactly what they were hoping for. Each day sheriff's deputies canvass 800 square miles.

Capt. Kelvin Stanford is the Operations Commander.

"You can look in the trunk and we have a safely mounted propane tank, which is crash resistant. In the event of a rear end crash, it has been tested to make sure the safety of the driver will be in tact," Stanford said. "It has bleed off respirators which can catch the fumes. So no fumes actually go into the car. You can't smell it."

Deputies will be able to fill up at the sheriff's department or other approved sites. When no propane is available, officials said the cars can still use gasoline.

"If a unit is off on patrol and it runs low on the propane, it doesn't have to come back to the station at this point," said Stanford. "It can continue because, without notice, the car will go back to gasoline until you can get back to an approved propane fueling station."

A nearly $90,000 grant from the Department of Energy is paying most of costs of outfitting the vehicles with the sheriff's department only having to chip in another $3,200. Officials call that a tremendous bargain. You see, in recent years propane has run anywhere from 85 cents to $1.35 cheaper per gallon than gasoline.

"This is an estimate of $60,000 of fuel costs, which actually could be more than that depending on the amount of driving that is done throughout the year," said Stanford. "It's more efficient on the cars and due to the research we've had, the longevity of the motor actually lasts longer on propane."

The Alliance Auto Gas is handling the outfitting of all the patrol cars. It's a partnership of businesses spearheaded by Blossman Gas. The goal is to help anyone converting vehicles to propane so they don't have to seek out all the individual companies to meet all their service needs.

Deputies expect all the cars to be converted by mid-January. A company in Ocean Springs is doing the work.


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